Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Questions (122, 123)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

122. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the rules that apply to the child benefit scheme in respect of fathers who do not have full custody of their children but who financially contribute to their children's upkeep and who live with them for agreed periods but not full time; and the statutory basis for these rules. [42558/13]

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Róisín Shortall

Question:

123. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection if it is the case that where custody and living arrangements in respect of a child are approximately evenly distributed between the parents of a child that child benefit is paid in these circumstances only to the mother; the statutory basis for these arrangements; and if she will outline the circumstances where the benefit may be split among the parents. [42559/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 123 together.

Child benefit is a universal monthly payment made to the parents/guardians of children that assists families with the cost associated with raising children. Child benefit is paid to around 606,000 families in respect of some 1.15 million children with an estimated expenditure of around €1.9 billion in 2013.

The needs of the children are the priority consideration in the payment of child benefit. Under Section 220 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005, child benefit is payable to the person with whom a qualified child normally resides and the child will not be regarded as normally residing with more than one person. Regulations governing normal residence for child benefit purposes are contained in S.I. 142/2007 (Article 159) and they provide inter alia for the following:

(1) In the event that a qualified child is resident with both mother and father, he or she will be regarded as normally residing with the mother or step-mother;

(2) If mother and father are resident in separate households, the qualified child shall be regarded as normally residing with the person with whom he or she resides for the majority of the time.

In practice, child benefit is paid to the child’s mother in all cases except where the parents are separated and the father has responsibility for the full-time care of the child for more than 50% of the time.

The regulations governing the scheme does not provide for the splitting of the payment between parties in cases of shared residency arrangements for the child.

If the Deputy wishes to have a particular case considered in further detail by the Department, I will arrange this if she sends me the details.